In a recent article about the book in New York magazine, Mary Kaye Schilling writes: “A fascination with fascination is one way of describing Wasson’s interest in a film that not only captures the sedate elegance of a New York long gone, but that continues to entrance as a love story, a style manifesto, and a way to live…Wasson wanted to know the reason for its cultural longevity, and once he started asking, the inevitable answer was Audrey Hepburn. But something about the idolatry bugged him. ‘Hepburn has become a near-saintly figure, untouchable. That didn’t sit well with me. I thought there was a human being there who needed to be looked at.’ “
In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, “a single woman with an active sex life,” which “was suddenly a condition to aspire to.” Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to be cast in the film because he thought Monroe
Many families with a child with autism or Asperger Syndrome feel that involvement in the community is not for them. In Lisa Jo Rudy’s new book, Get Out, Explore, and Have Fun!: How Families of Children With Autism or Asperger Syndrome Can Get the Most Out of Community Activities (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, May 2010), Rudy ’81 offers a rich and varied menu of suggestions for how such families can take full part in community life and support the strengths and interests of their child at the same time.
Rudy explains that informal learning experiences can be the key to self-discovery, communication, self-confidence, and even independence for many children on the autism spectrum. This book will open the door to community inclusion, creative exploration, and social learning.
Rudy is the mother of Tom, age 14, diagnosed with PDD-NOS — an autism spectrum disorder. She is also a professional writer, researcher and consultant. Lisa and her videographer/photographer husband, Peter, live in Massachusetts.
Rudy holds a B.A. in the humanities from Wesleyan and a Master ’s Degree in Divinity from Harvard University. She is the author of more than a dozen trade books for children and adults.
Carolyn Parkhurst ’92 made a huge splash on the literary scene with her first best-selling novel The Dogs of Babel. She has just published her third novel, The Nobodies Album, and it has already received several positive reviews in such publications as The New York Times,The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weeklyas well as on NPR.
The protagonist of the novel is Octavia Frost, a famous best-selling novelist who is also known to be unpleasant. As she is about to deliver her latest manuscript to her New York publisher, she finds out her rock star son Milo has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. The book presents the chapters of Frost’s latest book and it also takes her on a journey in San Francisco to find clues about the crime.
In his Washington Post review, Art Taylor writes that The Nobodies Album is “not just a book about a novelist in action, it’s also a meditation on writing itself and on the curious intersections between the imagined world and the real one. … the book succeeds in probing nuanced issues of guilt and innocence through an intricate collage of memories and musings.”
In her survey of summer crime novels for NPR, Maureen Corigan writes: “The great pleasure of reading The Nobodies Album arises out of keeping track of the constantly shifting relationships among a small group of paranoid people quarantined from the rest of society by their fame.”
For Globe staffer Jenn Abelson, Maguire outlines the message behind his Boston-based blog, which also serves as a platform to launch his book-in-progress and is gaining some wider media attention. His goal is to increase civility in our day-to-day dealings with each other, in general, and with those who work in service industries, in particular, where people are often treated with little respect. The customer, he says, is not always right, and sometimes deserves to be “fired.”
However, he does not abnegate responsibility for those in the service industry to set a pleasant tone, and he praises the businesses that exhibit great service and hospitality. “Hospitality and service are a mindset and a culture,” he notes.
Maguire says the core message of his book and blog consists of three items:
That the customer has almost as much to do with the success of every customer service interaction as the service worker.
That the customer, especially the abusive customer, is often dead wrong.
That all of us are responsible for serving each other with mutual respect and civility.
Erika Goldman '81 is editorial director at Bellevue Literary Press, which published Tinkers.
This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, Tinkers by Paul Harding, was a bit of a surprise. The book had gotten excellent reviews (though it wasn’t reviewed by The New York Times) and was pushed by independent book sellers. But it was far from a slam dunk for a prestigious literary prize.
Even more surprising is the publisher, Bellevue Literary Press, where Erika Goldman ’81 is editorial director. This is the first small publisher to release a Pulitzer fiction winner since Louisiana State University Press published A Confederacy of Dunces. Bellevue Literary Press is part of New York University’s School of Medicine and specializes in works that explore the convergence of science and the arts, with a publishing schedule of eight books per year, or four a season, three being non-fiction and one a novel. The full-time staff consists of Goldman, a veteran editor who previously worked at Scribner and Simon & Schuster, and an assistant.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “a Pulitzer was not something Goldman campaigned for or expected, and she’s still digesting what the award will do for Bellevue. ‘I hope it means when we publish book, people will take a closer look,’ she said. ‘It’s great to get this recognition but we’re still modest in our means. We’re not going to be playing high stakes with the big guys.’ “
Bill Shapiro ’87 has edited an entertaining and often fascinating book, Other People’s Rejection Letters (Clarkson Potter), in which he has collected 150 rejection letters sent to famous and ordinary people and presented exactly as they were written.
The letters included are surprisingly varied, sent by text message, e-mail and by the U.S. Postal Service, and messages are handwritten, typed, illustrated and scrawled in lipstick and crayon. Alongside letters rejecting Gertrude Stein, Andy Warhol and Jimi Hendrix, readers can peruse notes from former lovers, relatives, would-be bosses, potential publishers, universities, Walt Disney Productions, the pope and even “the Private Office of His Majesty the King.”
At the end of the book, Shapiro offers the stories behind several of the letters and an update on some of the recipients. Some of them serve as lessons and inspirations.
Amy Bloom '75, appointed as the Kim-Frank Family University Writer in Residence, read from her latest book, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, April 13 in New York City at "A Conversation with Amy Bloom '75 and President Michael Roth '78." The event was sponsored by the Wesleyan Club of New York and the Wesleyan Writing Programs. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)
Amy Bloom ’75, a distinguished writer of novels, short stories, nonfiction, and projects for television, has been named the Kim-Frank Family University Writer in Residence at Wesleyan University. Her appointment takes effect July 1.
Bloom will have an office in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.
Bloom will enhance Wesleyan’s curricular offerings in writing by offering two courses per year, and she will serve as a senior thesis advisor. She will have an office in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.
“Amy Bloom is one of the most accomplished writers in the United States today,” says President Michael S. Roth. “Her insight, her creativity, and her deep understanding of the craft of writing will be a great benefit to our students. The writing community at Wesleyan is prolific and strong, and Amy Bloom’s presence will add to that vitality.”
Bloom is the author of two novels, three collections of short stories, and a nonfiction book. She has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her stories have appeared in TheBest American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad.
Growing up, Steve Almond ’88 secretly desired to live the life of a rock star but after taking piano lessons he realized he had no musical talent. Though he didn’t become a musician, he became the next best thing: an obsessive music fan, particularly of rock and roll—or what he calls “a drooling fanatic.”
Almond’s new book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life (Random House), recounts his love for music from his earliest rock criticism to his devotion to obscure bands to his meeting with Erin, a former heavy-metal “chick” who became his wife. As he has shown in his essays, fiction, and best-selling nonfiction book Candyfreak, Almond is a highly entertaining and very funny writer. This time, he shares his interviews with some of America’s finest songwriters, a recap of visiting Graceland stoned, an examination of why depression songs can make us feel better, a reluctant exegesis of the song “Africa” by Toto, and much more.
Earlier this month, Vanity Fair interviewed the author. When asked why vinyl is so superior to digital music, Almond responded: “The sad thing is, it’s impossible to talk about anything related to music and technology anymore and not sound old. You bring up CDs and most people are like, ‘What are those?’ Pretty soon even talking about the iPod is going to be like ‘C’mon, Gramps. Get out of the basement, man. It’s 2013. Nobody listens to those anymore!’ Technology has made fogies out of everyone. But when it comes to LPs, I think the real complaint from purists is that we don’t listen to music in the same way anymore. I remember listening to Songs in the Key of Life or Mind Games, whatever it was, while sitting on the floor of my parents’ living room and reading the lyrics from the album sleeve and just being immersed in those songs. There wasn’t any other narrative going on. It was just me and whatever the music was making me feel, period.”
Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter (University of Chicago Press) by Seth Lerer ’76 has been honored with the 2010 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin. The $30,000 award, the largest annual cash prize in English-language literary criticism, is administered for the Capote Estate by the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Lerer, dean of arts and humanities at the University of California San Diego, where he is distinguished professor in the Department of Literature, will receive the award in a free, public event at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 6, in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol on the University of Iowa campus. Lerer will speak on “Criticism and the Classroom.”
Book by Seth Lerer ’76.
The book previously won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award. The study is a scholarly volume aimed at a broader reading audience, but it also is a kind of intellectual autobiography, touching on Lerer’s own youthful passion for reading and his experience as a parent.
Habeas corpus has been known as the Great Writ of Liberty but history shows us that it is actually a writ of power. In Habeas Corpus: From England to Empire (Harvard University Press), Paul D. Halliday ’83, a history professor at the University of Virginia, provides a sweeping revisionist account of the world’s most revered legal device and changes the traditional way people understand the writ and democracy.
The author examined thousands of cases across more than five hundred years to write this history of the writ from the 15th to the 18th centuries.
Beginning in the 1600s, English judges used ideas about royal power to empower themselves to protect the king’s subjects. The key was not the prisoner’s right to liberty but the possible wrongs committed by a jailer or anyone who ordered a prisoner detained. This focus on wrongs gave the writ the force necessary to protect ideas about rights as they developed outside of law. This judicial power carried the writ across the world, from Quebec to Bengal.
Halliday’s research has been cited extensively in two Guantanamo detainee cases and a death penalty review case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fiction writer and essayist Amy Bloom ’75 was interviewed on March 13, 2010 by Emma Brockes in The Guardian, UK. Bloom’s third collection of short stories, Where the God of Love Hangs Out (Random House), was published in January to general critical acclaim.
In the interview, Bloom talks about her previous career as a psychotherapist, growing up with parents employed as writers, writing novels vs. short stories, reviews (she doesn’t read them), writing for television, and her personal life.
Bloom was asked why in an era of withering attention spans, short stories aren’t in greater demand. “It’s a question of commitment, Bloom says. ‘There is a big category of not very well-written but extremely readable novels – books you take to the beach, to the airport, the genre novels that don’t require much of you but fill a few hours. There are very few short stories like that: big, badly written, eminently readable. Those novels require absolutely nothing. It’s like watching television.’ Even the literary magazines she writes for reject stories that have more than one strand. ‘The short story in the modern magazine is an extended anecdote.’ ”
Carlo Rotella ’86 (Photo by Lee Pellegrini/BC Chronicle)
In the Feb. 1 issue of The New Yorker, Carlo Rotella ’86, the director of the American Studies Program at Boston College, profiles U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Rotella points out that President Obama has allotted Duncan more than 70 billion dollars in federal economic-stimulus funds to hand out to the states—more money than any Secretary of Education has had before him. Duncan has exceptional leverage with this stimulus money and his close relationship with Obama, which dates back to when Duncan worked in Chicago.
Rotella writes about Duncan’s childhood on the South Side of Chicago, his passion for basketball, and the after-school program his mother ran and continues to run in North Kenwood-Oakland. Duncan attended Harvard and then played professional basketball in Australia before returning to Chicago.
Rotella examines Duncan’s working career in Chicago and his tenure as C.E.O. of the Chicago Public Schools, and he interviews several critics of his policies. He also considers the rules by which the stimulus funds will be awarded to states and considers the legacy of No Child Left Behind.
Rotella writes: “Many people who voted for Obama are finding out that on education, as on other issues, he is more of a centrist than they ever imagined. They are realizing, too, that Duncan, for all his idealism, is also the guy who got along just fine with Mayor Daley.”